Now that he’s not the camp fatty, there hasn’t been a heck of a lot of negativity surrounding Kadri heading into the season. Sure, there were talks of moving him all summer, but that all proved to be for naught – which isn’t surprising now that there’s a new regime that values things that Naz does well.
What are those things? Well…
stats via war-on-ice.com
Naz’s start as a Leaf back in 2010-11 wasn’t the greatest, but that’s to be expected. However, he’s been great ever since, consistently being one of the best possession players on the Leafs. For all the talk of his defensive zone play, he sure likes to drive play and keep pucks in the offensive zone. If he is able to continue to do that, his inabilities in the d-zone become less important.
Points-wise, his 50 pts in 78 games was a disappointment for many, even though a regression from his 44 in 48 games in the lockout year was 100% predictable. Oh and those 50 points? Put him 37th in points among centres. That’s not too shabby at all.
stats via hockey analysis.
Also worth noting – Naz spent time under Dave Tippett at the World Championships this past summer. He has said that it helped him focus on developing all facets of his game.
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TSN’s Scott Cullen projects Kadri to put up a 25-35-60 scoreline this year, and I think that is not only obtainable, but likely. A full season beside Lupul (or perhaps JVR if the coaches actually do mix up lines) should help Kadri, as he hasn’t had consistent wingers season-to-season. It seems likely that Clarkson will be on his right wing, and while Clarkson looked like a boat anchor last year, the coaching staff has mentioned his lack of desire to control the puck into the offensive zone. That leads me to believe that they will let Kadri be the main puck controller, which is great for Naz and his linemates. We know how good he is at making those fancy passes.
In addition to points, I think we can expect to see more of what Naz brings to the table – highlight-reel hands and that ability to be a pest and lay some big hits. Honestly, when you think of all the things he does well, it’s kind of weird that a lot of fans don’t appreciate his game. He’s such a Leafs-type player.
Who knows – maybe we see him on the top line at some point this season for an extended look with The Phil.
Naz is a RFA at the end of the year. I hope and predict that the Leafs will structure a deal similar to that of Gardiner’s, locking him up long-term. Of course, a big year could make that quite a negotiation.
In almost every league, pretty great. He’ll get points, which are split relatively evenly between goals and assists – a few of which will come on the powerplay. And we know he likes to hit. He’ll get a few PIMs too. But hey, I’m just some dude – check out our sister site DailyFaceoff.com for more fantasy advice on Naz and others.